About Erin D
Lives in San Pedro, Belize
Since Sep 2008
35-49 year old female
Full time traveler and digital nomad - visited over 60 countries on 5 continents to date. Three-time expat -- Taiwan, Netherlands, and Belize. I'm a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) and I'm an annual passholder to all Disney Parks worldwide, visiting each of the international resorts 2-3 times per year. I work as a travel and food writer and blogger. I write for publications like Viator and Roam Right Travel Insurance. I am AFAR Magazine's Belize expert and authored the Official AFAR Guide to Belize. In 2013, I authored the majority of Belize's official visitor magazine, Destination Belize, and had the honor to work as the English language editor for a renowned international chef's second published cookbook.
Points of Interest & Landmarks
Historic Walking Areas, Hot Springs & Geysers, Mountains, National Parks, Parks
Points of Interest & Landmarks
Department Stores, Shopping Malls, Movie Theatres
Fountains, Parks, Biking Trails
If you've ever wondered where all the gorgeous shots of Taipei with Taipei 101 in the background are taken, 90% of them are shot from the top of Elephant Mountain. The trail — also called Nangang District Hiking Trail — is located near Taipei 101 and the Xinyi Shopping District. The hike can take anywhere from 15 - 30 minutes to complete and it does include a lot of stairs. About halfway in, you'll find a landing area with facilities and restrooms. Bring your camera gear — including tripod — and don't be surprised to find a number of professional photographers up there.
Yangmingshan National Park is one of the most beloved spots in Taipei, and one of the best natural spots close to the city center. The area was formed by volcanic action in the Datun Mountains, which helped to create the abundant hot springs Yangminghsan is known for. There are numerous hiking trails here, including Tianmu Trail, Lengshuikeng, Qingtiangang, Jinbaoli Trail, Mt. Cising, Mt. Datun, and more. All the trails are nicely maintained and provide access to impressive scenery within the national park. If you head up Lengshuikeng Trail, you'll find Taiwan's only bed of precipitated sulfur. The sulfur fumes vented here turn the water murky, into an area known as Milk Lake, and the water temperature stays at a nice 104F (compared to most of the hot springs that are 194F or hotter).
Dahu Park is one of the lesser known outdoor spots in Taipei, but one of my personal favorites. Located in the Neihu District, the park offers some stunning views — including Egret Lake and Mt. Bailushi — without a big hike or crowds. There are also fishing zones, easy trails, a beautiful Chinese-style bridge, and more. It's a great place for nature photographers or travelers just looking for a quiet spot to relax. I lived across the street from Dahu Park for over two years and the views are stunning both during the day and at night when the bridge is lit up.
Taipei is home to what has been called the largest zoo in Asia. Also known as the 'Muzha Zoo,' it was founded in 1914 when Taiwan was under Japanese rule. It was originally a private zoological garden, but the government of Taiwan purchased it and opened it as a public zoo and park. It was expanded and relocated to its current spot in 1986. Exhibits include animals from all over the world, including Africa and Australia. One of the most notable exhibits is the Giant Panda House, which is home to two adult pandas and a baby. Other fun exhibits include the Koala House, the African animal area — where you'll see zebras, giraffes, elephants, and more — and the Penguin House, and temperate zone areas where red pandas, black bears, and pumas hang out. If you're interested in learning more about local Taiwanese animals, don't skip the Formosan exhibit that has boars, crab-eating mongooses, leopards, Formosan deer, and the Formosan black bears.
Hop on the Maokong Gondola to visit the Maokong Tea area (particularly convenient if you've just spent some time at Taipei Zoo). On a clear day, the views are pretty awesome as you depart from the Taipei Zoo and head up the mountain. There are four stations, including Zhinan Temple. Once you reach the final stop, explore the Maokong tea plantations and tea houses. This is an incredibly popular spot during the evening when many groups come up and sit at the tea houses for hours playing board games and enjoying the company of friends. There are a few tea houses where the staff speak good English and you can learn the proper ritual for a tea ceremony here.
You might find Danshuei referred to as Tamsui, Danshui, or even Tamshui. Whichever name you go by, it's still one of the coolest spots in greater Taipei. It was once the center of shipping and commerce for northern Taiwan so it has a cool industrial vibe mixed with great coastal scenery and some interesting historic spots. Check out Hongmao Castle (Fort San Domingo), the Old Street and waterfront, and the Fisherman's Wharf area. The Fisherman's Wharf area is especially popular at night: This is where you'll find the iconic 'Lover's Bridge' that so many people love to take photos on.
Daan Forest Park, or Da'an Park, is a public park located in the Daan District of Taipei. It's a popular spot in the center of the city for various outdoor activities. It has two ponds, a couple of pavilions, walking paths, and a jogging loop. Da'an Park is bordered by Xinyi Road to the north, Heping East Road to the south, Xinsheng South Road to the west, and Jianguo South Road to the east. Be sure to check out the 'Ecological Pond,' home to a number of birds, turtles, and fish. There is a Buddha Statue and bamboo forest in the south and an open-air theater in the middle too. The park is also considered the homeland of water sources, and the Water Resources Agency hopes to educate locals on conserving water here; look for water saving apparatus installed inside, a public toilet demo system, and the water purification plant experiment.
To get to Wulai Falls, you'll have to journey about 40 minutes or so to the outskirts of greater Taipei, but it's worth it. Wulai is a small town that is famous for its hot springs and aboriginal culture. Visit the waterfalls, watch the Formosan aboriginal shows, and take the train that runs through the village. If you're wanting to try some hot springs, Wulai is the next best spot to Beitou, as here the springs are clear and odorless.
If you want to check out one of the mixed indoor/outdoor shopping areas, try Miramar Entertainment Park. Aside from a number of good restaurants and interesting stores inside the mall, there is a giant Ferris wheel on the roof of the center. It's one of the tallest in Asia, measuring over 100 meters (330 feet) tall; has 48 carriages — each holding up to six passengers and featuring independent air-conditioning and stereo facilities — and one rotation of the wheel takes 17 minutes. The Ferris wheel is quite popular with young couples in Taiwan who stand in line to enjoy a romantic ride over Taipei.
Located in the Zhongshan District of Taipei, this popular riverside park sits alongside the Keelung river. The park was designed to help straighten the course of the river and sits between Zhongshan and Dazhi Bridges. It's an iconic park in the center of Taipei and was one of the venues for the prestigious International Flora Expo in 2010. Dajia, and its neighboring parks, are ideal spots to go cycling and get away from the hectic city life without having to travel too far. While cycling is a popular pastime in Taipei, the busy city streets make it a rather dangerous mode of transport, so people take to the trails, cycling paths, and nature areas here. You can view the popular Miramar Ferris wheel, Taipei's iconic Grand Hotel, and there is a gigantic fountain that features a rhythmic water show with aerated jets of varying intensity and height. Plus, there are plenty of sports facilities for those interested in playing basketball, tennis, badminton, and croquet.